Increasing Pattern Density - What would you do?

Billy Bob

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Billy Bob. Absolutely consider hunt offered. We can walk to the bay from my house. Mostly widgeon early season. I seriously didn't know you didn't shoot clays. You mentioned it in post #81 as if you did. Apologies. And yes I will write you pre season if you will drive this far
I used to shoot but long term diabetic eye damage ended that. I enjoyed skeet.

When you pull the trigger on a bird and notice your eye bleeding inside as you're walking out to get the bird it really rocks your world.

I hunt/have hunted your area and all around both of the bays. If we meet you may well recognize me. Crusty looking redneck covered in mud driving a 20 year old beat up Ford. I hunt from Nisqually to GH and Willapa. I met Oskar from this forum by chance one day up north. Didn't know it was him until I saw a pic of the old double he was shooting and the itx loads he showed me. Small world.
 

C M Wings

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Are your birds turned to burger? Im really not getting how you think birds are going to be turned to burger. I can say it doesn't happen unless it's a bad shot.

Do you not know the width of of a pattern fired from a full choke at 20 yards? It's about 12 inches. Not too hard to keep it off the bird as they stall in the air when you pull up and then hang there for another second as they try to go back to horizontal flight. Could body shoot them with a .22lr when theyre hanging in front .
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Could body shoot them with a .22lr when theyre hanging in front….

Yeah sure. Go see how many straight away trap targets from station 3 you can beak with a 22 and report back.
 

C M Wings

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I will agree that clays can not completely emulate wild birds, but sporting clay courses that are designed specifically to present targets at various angles and directions are the best practice available. My local course has stations with incoming clays as well as crossers that simulate what one may experience in the field.

In regard to the thread’s title and the original question, I believe the pattern density should be such that the bird’s head and neck can not pass through without being struck by a few pellets. Along this line, a tight pattern can blow up the body if struck directly and too close.

This is just off season banter and there’s more than one way to skin a cat, but here’s a common diagram from hunter-ed.com.

View attachment 332752

Personally, I do not wish to have the bird take the whole “desirable pattern” completely. When it does occur, the bird is usually not worth plucking, since the body is beat up. Maybe someone who desires to strike the body of the bird wishes to have a looser pattern, but I’m in the full pattern camp.
Those are both desirable patterns. One for clays and one for ducks.
 

oskar

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That is great duck hunting country. Some of the best duck hunting in the country and hardly any competition, from the pot-holes to the rivers ( Columbia, Skagit, Black , Wilapa, Chahalis) to the coast from the Canadian border all the way to the Oregon border. Now I'm hunting the desert SW not as many dcks but I don't need three sets of hunting cloths so some are drying out while I hunt in the others.

5nc9qE.jpg


If you want a denser pattern wait till they get closer.
 
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Squaller

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Interesting to see the variety of answers...

You want really "dense patterns," go to super tight chokes with really small shot... You can have a soccer-ball sized pattern at 30 yards... Now, is that effective? Probably not for me.

I am generally looking for the most "effective" pattern for the situation... I want an evenly distributed pattern at the distances I am shooting with appropriate pellet sizes for the game I am shooting (which changes depending on where and what I am shooting at).

Factors such as forcing cones and back-boring can probably make some difference on pattern quality, but the only thing I can say from my own experiences, is that larger bore diameters (for a given gauge) are easier to manage pattern quality (for me).

Shotgun shell brands? Well, I had my preferences, but currently my very favorite shells are the ones that are available for me to purchase (I hope this changes in the future). Pre-Covid I had a strong preference for Fiocchi, with Kent's running second. (My preferences were based on pattern quality, recoil, shooting dirty, price, etc.)

Speed? With steel shot you need enough velocity to be effective, but too much speed causes unnecessary recoil with poorer pattern quality... My comfort zone for factory loads (based on what is marked on the box) is 1400-1560 FPS, with my preferences being 1475-1500 FPS based on the patterning board and personal field experience.

Here is what has worked best for me, for given situations for non-toxic shot (as we are required to shoot non-toxic for all game in California)
  • Quail: Skeet and #6 steel (I despise shooting steel at quail, and while this is the best combination I have found, I do not find it to be nearly as effective as smaller lead shot in an IC)
  • Dove: IC #6's for early season, LM with #6's as the season wears on (once again, I hate shooting steel for dove)
  • Pheasant: IC or LM with Hevi-shot #6's (as I only kill a handful of wild birds each year, and have some old Hevi-shot put aside for my yearly pheasant hunts).
  • Ducks in tight cover (with expected ranges between 15-30 yards), skeet or IC with #4 steel.
  • Ducks in semi-marsh or open water (with expected ranges between 20-40 yards), I generally have in LM with #4's chambered followed by #3's. Early morning with lots of birds in the air, I might switch to IC for closer shooting, and on tougher days later in the morning with wary birds, I might slip in a modified (especially when I am waiting for that last pintail which will generally present itself at about 40 yards or so).
  • Geese (which are generally snows/specs for me) with shots from 30-45 yards, Modified with #3's in the chamber followed by #2's. Geese are generally easier to hit, and I am looking to make head/neck shots (if possible) and tighter patterns are probably not much of a handi-cap here.
  • Honkers (which I simply do not get to hunt very often), I have some old Hevi-Steel (denser than steel) #2's in a modified... Once again, easier targets, and these shells have crushed the few geese I have had opportunity to shoot with them... #4 Hevi-shot has been a great choice for honkers in the past, I have been surprised at how well they work and how far they will kill them consistently...
That is what I do... I am not saying it is the only, or even the best way to go, but it is what I have found works best for me, after spending time on the patterning board and the field....

I feel that too many hunters are looking to go tighter with their choking, when they should be looking to open things up... And too many hunters are looking to increase pellet size, when I have found that dropping down in pellet size has improved my success (and I kill plenty of larger birds including canvasback and pintail, as well as the occasional snow/speck that flies over at 45 yards); the key to shooting smaller shot, is to keep the pattern on the front end of the bird. Once again, my opinion only, and every hunter should do what works best for them (so please don't get your panties into a bunch!).
 

Ravenanme

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Ravin not sure why you make the judgment on hunting the beach is just pass shooting...silly... I call widgeon, pins and teal all the time to the spread. Seems "real" to me. Usually 10 to 15 peel off the flock and finish like they are on a string. I'd shoot trap with you but prob not birds. Prob embarass me
I'm really Not as it's just a different way to hunt Waterfowl . I've had a small taste of that way of hunting with a little fun but I was always
alarmed to what risk there was for my Dog . The area we hunted was off a rock pile just in the water on the beach with crashing waves , you had
to keep and eye on a dropped bird in order to help the dog retrieve it . I was always worried something out there would harm my dog !
That picture of your boat is more like a place I would enjoy hunting . I have hunted similar places in the Northwest , mostly in Oregon , with invites
from other clay target shooters ! I mostly hunt along river systems here at home but always enjoyed hunts along the Sprague and Wood rivers .

Sorry I meant Oskar's boat and location !
 

Tuleman

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Our 5-Stand has one. House is way out in front, 80-100 yards. Bird comes right at you, maybe a little left of center. Depending on how the angle it set that day, it can float almost straight down. Just like a decoy duck.
View attachment 332754
Just a pic of our 5-Stand. Those clays would settle right in line with the right edge of the photo.
My local 5-stand course has a very similar, incoming shot. Left unshot, it will softly land about 25 yards in front of the stands. Quite like a duck floating into the decoys.

I see very few ducks actually hovering. They are almost always dropping, sliding left or right, and/or moving forward albeit slowly. Which has little to do with head shots.
Range is what determines if a duck is head shot or not.
A couple of pellets in the head with none in the body is not a head shot; it's a lucky shot. No one has the ability to place two or three random pellets...out of 150... in a specific 2.5 inch circle ( the size of a mallard's skull). A head shot is intentionally putting all contacting shot in the head. Anything else is chance.
Your definition of "head shot" may vary. But if I put two pellets in a duck, and both are in the head, I count myself as fortuitous.
 

Native NV Ducker

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If I intentionally shoot for the front end of the bird, and I end up with pellets in the head and neck, and none in the body, that isn't fortuitous. That is good shooting.

And yes, by definition, if there are pellets ONLY in the head, that bird is head shot.

headshot​


Also found in: Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

head·shot​

(hĕd′shŏt′)
n.
1. A photograph of the head.
2. A bullet or shot aimed at and hitting the head.


You ever see turkey targets?
1646414037157.png


When someone fills up that target with holes, is it a head shot, or just fortuitous?
 

Ravenanme

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I agree it's not often a birds only wounds are to its head , after being shot with a shotgun ! The idea of using a shotgun is with its ability to
send out a pattern of pellets ! The random placement of these pellets can be anywhere in the pattern itself so there is NO guaranty of where the
bird will be hit . Oh with those who have patterned there gun/loads , they know how dense the inner core of the pattern is so , they are able to
use it for a greater chance of a head shot . Personally I shoot to center the bird in the pattern as I know when I do , there's less likely a cripple
to chase . We have lots of opportunities hunting the rivers and sloughs with birds inside of 20 yds so , we shoot loads that don't turn them into
hamburger but , now and then we lose control and then , there's more pellets in our birds than we like ! We do enjoy bringing them to the water
with their legs down but (mostly) start shooting after spooking them so we can see where the Green is ! Roasting Birds in a Barrel that are all shot-up
isn't what we like but 95 % of our birds have less than 5 pellet wounds . I can say , when birds are climbing to get away , the chance of a wound
through the Breast in unlikely !

Let us beware , we are talking Waterfowl hunting , nothing else , Right ?
 

C M Wings

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If I intentionally shoot for the front end of the bird, and I end up with pellets in the head and neck, and none in the body, that isn't fortuitous. That is good shooting.

And yes, by definition, if there are pellets ONLY in the head, that bird is head shot.

headshot​


Also found in: Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

head·shot​

(hĕd′shŏt′)
n.
1. A photograph of the head.
2. A bullet or shot aimed at and hitting the head.


You ever see turkey targets?
View attachment 332799

When someone fills up that target with holes, is it a head shot, or just fortuitous?
It’s TSS 9s lol
 

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